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Volume 2016, Article ID 8956432, 10 pages
Review Article

Review of Brain-Machine Interfaces Used in Neural Prosthetics with New Perspective on Somatosensory Feedback through Method of Signal Breakdown

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

Received 20 December 2015; Revised 22 March 2016; Accepted 28 April 2016

Academic Editor: Camillo Porcaro

Copyright © 2016 Gabriel W. Vattendahl Vidal et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The brain-machine interface (BMI) used in neural prosthetics involves recording signals from neuron populations, decoding those signals using mathematical modeling algorithms, and translating the intended action into physical limb movement. Recently, somatosensory feedback has become the focus of many research groups given its ability in increased neural control by the patient and to provide a more natural sensation for the prosthetics. This process involves recording data from force sensitive locations on the prosthetics and encoding these signals to be sent to the brain in the form of electrical stimulation. Tactile sensation has been achieved through peripheral nerve stimulation and direct stimulation of the somatosensory cortex using intracortical microstimulation (ICMS). The initial focus of this paper is to review these principles and link them to modern day applications such as restoring limb use to those who lack such control. With regard to how far the research has come, a new perspective for the signal breakdown concludes the paper, offering ideas for more real somatosensory feedback using ICMS to stimulate particular sensations by differentiating touch sensors and filtering data based on unique frequencies.